Notebook: October 2023

News briefs from across the industry and beyond. This month’s articles include: UC Davis Experimental Trial Saves Kitten with Deadly Disease; FDA Approves BIAH Anti-Parasite Drug; VHMA Names 2023 Practice Manager of the Year; Nonsurgical Contraceptive Alternative for Cats; and more!


Cutting-Edge Technology for Companion Animal Patients at Cornell

A new technology—an extracorporeal blood purification (EBP) unit—opens the door to new treatment options at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, including dialysis for animals with kidney failure.

The new technology came online in 2023 for cats and dogs, reports Melanie Greaver Cordova in a news article from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The ability to provide dialysis and other extracorporeal blood purification to the patients in the upstate New York region is a game changer for our veterinary hospital,” says Jethro Forbes, DVM, DACVECC, assistant clinical professor in the Section of Emergency and Critical Care.

While a standard treatment in people, kidney dialysis is less common in veterinary practices. Only about 35 other animal hospitals across the country have such capabilities.

“It’s a smaller community of high-level practitioners, but it’s growing rapidly with advanced training programs being more accessible. The veterinary extracorporeal blood purification community has made huge strides in recent years,” Forbes says.

Photo credit: sommart/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Notebook_-_grayson-Enhanced-SR.jpgUC Davis Experimental Trial Saves Kitten with Deadly Disease

A kitten, found abandoned in a local park and later named Grayson, was brought to the Front Street Animal Shelter in Old Sacramento, California. He was diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a disease that is usually fatal in untreated cats. From the shelter, Grayson was enrolled in a clinical trial, “Oral antiviral therapy for cats with dry form of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)” at University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Antiviral drugs that decrease virus replication have been investigated in cats with FIP with promising results,” said investigator Krystle Reagan, PhD, DVM, assistant professor at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

After 16 weeks of treatment in the clinical trial, Grayson, now a year old, was declared medically free of FIP and is ready for adoption. He was recently featured in a news story by Sonora Slater in The Sacramento Bee.

Photo courtesy of Front Street Animal Shelter


“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

—Henry David Thoreau, writer

VIN Foundation Announces New Veterinary Student Scholarship

A new scholarship will award two students entering veterinary school in the fall of 2024 up to $140,000 each for tuition and fees, the nonprofit VIN Foundation announced recently.

The scholarship is known as the Mike Dunn, DVM Veterinary Student Scholarship created by Becky Godchaux. Two students who are accepted to the first year of veterinary school in 2024 will receive up to $35,000 each per year for up to four years—a total of up to $140,000 each.

According to the VIN Foundation, animal lover Becky Godchaux created this scholarship in recognition of her veterinarian Mike Dunn, DVM. Godchaux’s goal with the scholarship is to nurture the creation of more veterinarians like Dunn. As Becky says, “the happiness of my dogs is only as good as their health, and that is dependent on good veterinary care.”

The scholarship opens for submissions on August 15, 2023 at 9:00 am Pacific Time. The application process includes completing an application form along with a personal statement and letter of recommendation. Finalists will participate in a video interview and must show proof of accepting an offer of admittance for the Fall of 2024 to a qualifying veterinary school. This scholarship is restricted to veterinary students who are committed to practicing companion animal veterinary medicine. Awardees will also receive mentorship and support using the VIN Foundation programs through school and beyond, including mental wellness support, student debt support, and everything in between.

Learn more about the scholarship on the VIN Foundation website,

GettyImages-182793253.jpgNew Vet Tech Training Program Offered by Animal Humane Society

Animal Humane Society (AHS) is one of the first animal welfare organizations in the country to create a full-time, formal training program for veterinary professionals where employees are paid while they train. AHS recently launched the Rachael Ray Foundation Career Program, dedicated to training anyone interested in pursuing a career in veterinary technologies in AHS shelters and clinics.

The program mixes classroom lessons with hands-on practice for eight months. Participants are paid an hourly salary and benefits while they complete the program and, upon graduation, are eligible for positions as full-time AHS veterinary technicians with the choice of working in shelters or veterinary centers.

Photo credit: DenGuy/E+ via Getty Images

FDA Approves BIAH Anti-Parasite Drug

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved NexGard PLUS (afoxolaner, moxidectin, and pyrantel) chewable tablets that protect dogs from internal and external parasites—fleas, ticks, heartworm disease, roundworms, and hookworms.

“NexGard PLUS builds on our legacy in pet health to bring one-and-done monthly parasite protection to dogs,” said Daniel Watkins, vice president of US Pet at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.

The most frequently reported adverse reactions reported in clinical trials were diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and itching. NexGard PLUS contains afoxolaner, a member of the isoxazoline class, which has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia, and seizures in dogs with or without a history of seizures.

The safe use of NexGard PLUS has not been evaluated in breeding, pregnant, or lactating dogs. Dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infection prior to starting a heartworm disease preventive.

VHMA 2023 Practice Manager of the Year

A Florida practice manager who helped veterans gain internships in her practice has won the 2023 Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) annual award for Practice Manager of the Year.

The VHMA award recognizes a practice manager who has transformed their practice for the better. Suzanna Berry, the 2023 winner, was nominated by the owner of Pets R Family, a family-owned veterinary practice in St. Johns, Florida. Berry became Pets R Family’s first practice manager just six months after being hired as a customer service manager in 2020.

Along with other accomplishments as practice manager, including initiatives which have fostered a positive workplace culture, Berry earned the award for her initiative and innovation in developing the SkillBridge Program at Pets R Family.

SkillBridge, a program of the US Department of Defense, connects active-duty service members with private and public sector internship opportunities to gain valuable civilian work experience during their last 180 days of service.

Thanks to Berry’s initiative and hard work on the application, Pets R Family became the first veterinary practice to join the SkillBridge program. Several interns, inspired by their internship experience with Pets R Family, have applied to veterinary school.

GettyImages-1428381676.pngHannah Pet Hospitals Offers Insurance Alternative

Hannah Pet Hospitals—founded by Scott Campbell, DVM, DABVP (Canine and Feline), creator of the Banfield Pet Hospital network—is trying out a new type of pet healthcare model as an alternative to pet insurance or wellness plans.

Hannah says their Total Lifetime Care plans provide a wide range of benefits, including unlimited veterinary visits, preventive care, vaccinations, diagnostic tests, dental care, and training. The plan is available to its members at a fixed monthly rate without deductibles, co-pays, or confusing claims processes, the organization says.

Jaime Pickett, DVM, CEO of Hannah Pet Hospitals says, “We recognized the limitations of traditional pet insurance and wanted to create a better solution, offering peace of mind to pet parents and empowering them to provide the best possible care for their beloved companions.”

The plans provide comprehensive care at a fixed monthly cost, allowing its members to budget for their pets’ healthcare needs without worrying about unexpected expenses.

Photo credit: PonyWang/E+ via Getty Images


Recognizing Compulsive Disorders in Dogs and Cats

Common compulsive behaviors in dogs can include tail chasing, licking, spinning, pacing, chewing, barking, and biting at invisible objects. For cats, compulsive behavior may appear as overgrooming, suckling, repetitive vocalizing, pacing, and chasing imaginary objects.

If a pet cannot be distracted from the behavior or returns to it within minutes of the distraction, the behavior is probably compulsive, and the pet owner should consult a veterinarian.

“Triggers [for compulsive behavior] can include someone new visiting the house, vacuuming, or the use of laser pointers, but triggers can be anything since they are dependent on the individual dog or cat,” said Ashley Navarrette, DVM, a clinical veterinarian at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Triggers typically occur right before a pet displays compulsive behavior.

Navarette’s remarks appear in a story published online in Pet Talk, a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

Photo credit: Burak Can Oztas/iStock via Getty Images Plus

2023 AVMA Clinical Research Award Recognizes Nicholas Jeffery

Nicholas Jeffery, PhD, a professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is the winner of the 2023 AVMA Clinical Research Award for his work developing treatments for spinal cord injuries in dogs.

The Clinical Research Award is given annually to an AVMA member who has made significant contributions to the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases in animals.

Lori Teller, outgoing AVMA president, says “[Jeffery’s] innovative approach and rigorous scientific inquiry have brought about game-changing developments in the treatment and understanding of spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions.”

Jeffery’s key achievements include foundational research on spinal cord injury in dogs, the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies, and the direction of impactful clinical trials. He was instrumental in defining magnetic resonance imaging–based features of injury, which are still utilized to aid in diagnosis and delivery of local therapies.

GettyImages-1407359737.jpgCincinnati Zoo Scientists Study Nonsurgical Contraceptive Alternative for Cats

Nature Communications recently published study findings that demonstrate the efficacy of a nonsurgical alternative to spaying domestic cats. Scientists at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) and their collaborators found that a single dose of anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) gene therapy can induce long-term contraception in female cats. This study represents a major milestone in finding a way to humanely reduce free-roaming cats. The study was funded by The Joanie Bernard Foundation and The Michelson Found Animals Foundation.

Six female cats at CREW were treated with AMH gene therapy, and three untreated females served as controls. A single injection of the treatment caused the cats’ muscle cells to produce AMH (which is normally only produced in the ovaries) and raised the overall level of AMH about 100 times higher.

Two 4-month breeding trials were performed one- and two-years after treatment to test the efficacy of the AMH gene therapy. ”None of the cats treated with the gene therapy became pregnant,” said Lindsey Vansandt, DVM, PhD, lead author on the paper.

The treated cats have been monitored for more than three years. No adverse effects have been observed in any of the treated cats.

Photo credit: via Getty Images Plus

GettyImages-1516626250.pngEPA Confirms Approval of Seresto Collar

The controversial Seresto flea and tick collar has been approved for sale for the next five years—with some conditions. After reviewing incident reports over the past two years, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it, with support from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), confirmed continued approval (known officially as registration) of the Seresto flea and tick collar. While EPA ultimately approved the collar, the agency said its “scientific review of Seresto-related incident reports identified the need for more detailed incident reporting and public outreach.”

Following the EPA’s review, Elanco and EPA developed a stewardship program that Elanco agreed to implement. The program includes:

  • Enhanced data collection for adverse event (AE) reports
  • Continued annual enhanced reporting of Seresto AE data, similar to what EPA requires for pet spot-on products
  • Outreach to the veterinary community
  • Review of the collar release mechanism
  • Separation of product registrations for dog and cat
  • Updates to package insert language
  • Five-year registration review to ensure stewardship program actions support the continued safe use of Seresto. Elanco will complete a renewal process near the end of this period.

Photo credit: Miguel Alvarez/iStock via Getty Images Plus



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